No Hebrew, Please — This Is Europe
I wrote about it here recently: Israel’s ambassador to Denmark and the head of Copenhagen’s Jewish community have both warned Jews in that city that if they don’t want to be roughed up on the street by anti-Semites, they’d better not wear anything that would identify them as Jews – and, for good measure, they should also lower their voices when speaking Hebrew. The other day, in a supremely depressing article for Israel National News, Giulio Meotti provided a round-up of similar developments from around Europe.
For instance: a Jewish theological seminary in Potsdam has asked its rabbis not to wear yarmulkes in public. Pupils at a Jewish school in Berlin have been warned to speak German, not Hebrew, on school trips – and to wear baseball caps over their yarmulkes “so you don’t give stupid people something to get annoyed about.” Jews at Rome’s main synagogue now remove their yarmulkes when leaving services; so do Jews in Malmö, Sweden. A Jewish teacher at an adult education center in Kristiansand, Norway, has been told “that wearing the star could be deemed a provocation towards the many Muslim students at the school.” And so on.
The reason for all this cautious behavior, of course, is to avoid the fate of people like the Paris Metro passenger who, Meotti noted, was recently beaten unconscious by a mob who pegged him as Jewish because he was reading a book by Paris’s chief rabbi.
Even Meotti’s laundry list didn’t come close to covering the full range of despicable anti-Semitic outrages, and reactions thereto, that have occurred in Western Europe of late. One example: in early December, it was reported that in the wake of episodes at Edinburgh University in which an Israeli diplomat was “mobbed” and a speech by Israel’s ambassador was “disrupted by chanting students waving Palestinian flags,” many Jewish students, fed up with the “toxic atmosphere” (and, in some cases, scared to publicly identify as Jewish) had left for other colleges – and other countries.
Meotti is among the few journalists who have been sounding the warning for some time about the rise of Jew-hatred in Europe. The last few weeks, however, have seen a flurry of articles on the topic in relatively high-profile places. Can it be that the see-no-evil approach to this international catastrophe is finally giving way under the increasingly heavy weight of reality?
For example, Haaretz, which in late December ran an article entitled “France’s Jews on High Alert,” followed it up on New Year’s Eve with a piece by one Joel Braunold, who – after recalling that as a Jewish kid in London he found Americans’ and Israelis’ comments about anti-Semitism in Europe “hyperbolic,” ignorant, and almost racist – admitted that Europe does indeed have “a serious anti-Semitism problem” now, and that “the number of safe European capital cities has shrunk to a tiny number.” To make matters worse, Europe’s governments “are not taking the issue seriously”: either they dismiss anti-Semitism as a far-right pathology, or they blame it on Israel.